LAKE STEVENS — As Lake Stevens football players trickled into the locker room before facing Graham-Kapowsin in a 4A state tournament quarterfinal, they were met with a motivational reminder written on the team’s whiteboard.
The simple message read: 38-31 — the result of Lake Stevens’ season-ending loss a year ago to G-K in the state tournament’s opening round.
“We remembered the last 357 days ago when we lost on our field to the same team,” Vikings coach Tom Tri said, “so it was certainly a motivating factor.”
This time, Lake Stevens was left celebrating.
Quarterback Tre Long and the No. 3 Vikings struck for big plays, commanded the line of scrimmage and earned a 45-28 4A state tournament win over No. 6 Graham-Kapowsin on Saturday night in Lake Stevens.
The win gives the Vikings (12-0) their third semifinal appearance in the past eight years. Lake Stevens will face No. 2 Woodinville next week with a state championship berth at stake.
“It’s nice, but it’s a marathon not a sprint, so we just have to keep preparing every week,” Long said.
In a game featuring two offenses averaging a combined 91.3 points per game, it was the Vikings who made explosive plays.
Long, who completed 10-of-14 passes for 230 yards, had touchdown passes from 54, 57 and 71 yards out. Ian Hanson caught two, finishing with six receptions for a game-high 162 yards and two scores.
Setting up the pass was the Vikings’ dominant run game. Lake Stevens’ front wore down Graham-Kapowsin (10-2), and running back Dallas Landeros racked up 241 yards on 32 carries and scored all three of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“It’s game-changing,” said Tri of Lake Stevens’ rushing success. “It’s huge, because it demoralizes the other team. You are trying to get off the field so you can score points, but the other team keeps moving the chains. That’s why I want to give credit to our O-line, because they just mauled them in the second half. It was a different team.”
Lake Stevens’ defense held the G-K offense in check most of the night, despite facing quarterback Dylan Morris — a University of Washington commit who is regarded among the country’s top 10 QB recruits. Morris completed 13-of-26 passes for 200 yards and threw a late touchdown.
After the Eagles scored on their opening drive, they didn’t managed much until the game was out of hand.
G-K Running back Shabro Johnson gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead with a 5-yard TD run over the left side just 3 1/2 minutes in.
Lake Stevens matched G-K with a scoring drive of its own. Long connected with Hanson for a 57-yard touchdown on a beautiful, high-arcing pass that hit Hanson in perfect stride. The score evened the game at 7-7 with 7:43 to play in the first.
The Eagles missed out on points when kicker Josh Williams missed a 43-yard field goal short after a 12-play G-K drive with 6:40 to go in the half, and Lake Stevens used a 16-play drive that ended with a Brock Widmann 26-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead into halftime.
Lake Stevens extended its lead to 17-7 on the second play of the third quarter when Long found Hanson down the right sideline for a 71-yard TD pass.
Graham-Kapowsin cut the lead to 17-14 after a Johnson 23-yard TD run with 3:12 to go in the third, but the Vikings enjoyed a 21-0 scoring run featuring a 54-yard touchdown pass to Kasen Kinchen and two Landeros scoring runs. Landeros’ second — a 6-yarder — put the Vikings in front 38-14 with 5:26 to play.
Lake Stevens (12-0) keeps its perfect season rolling right into the 4A state tournament semifinals, where the Vikings will play Woodinville (11-1), which beat Gonzaga Prep 45-24 in its state quarterfinal on Saturday. The matchup between Lake Stevens and Graham-Kapowsin was the third time in four years the two teams have met in the state playoffs.
Tre Long, Lake Stevens — Long completed 10-of-14 passes for 230 yards. He said he was eager for the opportunity to compete against a highly touted quarterback such as G-K’s Dylan Morris. Long threw for touchdowns of 54, 57 and 71 yards.
Dallas Landeros, Lake Stevens —Lake Stevens ran its junior back left, right and up the middle against G-K, and everywhere worked. Landeros finished with a game-high 241 yards and three touchdowns.
Shabro Johnson, Graham-Kapowsin — Johnson kept the chains moving and gave the Eagles a nice boost on the ground. The back finished with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
“For them to go down and score on the opening drive, kind of at will, we thought we were going to have to put 50 up and it was going to be one of those 45-40 games. But give credit to our defense, we made some adjustments.” — Tom Tri, Lake Stevens coach
“We saw throughout the week that nobody thought we were going to win. Everybody was voting for Graham-Kapowsin to come out on top, and we wanted to prove everybody wrong and have them look at us a little differently.” — Tre Long, Lake Stevens quarterback
“We didn’t make plays, and against this team, that offense you knew was going to explode at sometime, and it did. We needed to match that early when we had the momentum.” — Eric Kurle, Graham-Kapowsin coach